!!> Read ➲ CivilWarLand in Bad Decline ➵ Author George Saunders – Thomashillier.co.uk


  • Paperback
  • 179 pages
  • CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
  • George Saunders
  • English
  • 04 May 2019
  • 0099595818

10 thoughts on “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline

  1. says:

    Have you ever heard a politically incorrect joke and laughed, and then felt guilty, but then laughed again Have you ever driven by a car wreck and slowed down to see the emergency response vehicles, and the vehicle made to look like a damaged accordion Have you ever watched a reality TV show and saw folks fighting each other and tearing clothes and being separated by bouncers and realized you were hypnotized by the gross lowest common denominator humanity Have you read Civilwarland in Bad Declin Have you ever heard a politically incorrect joke and laughed, and then felt guilty, but then laughed again Have you ever driven by a car wreck and slowed down to see the emergency response vehicles, and the vehicle made to look like a damaged accordion Have you ever watched a reality TV show and saw folks fighting each other and tearing clothes and being separated by bouncers and realized you were hypnotized by the gross lowest common denominator humanity Have you read Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders Twisted Degenerate Profligate Absolutely and unconditionally brilliant.I loved it and am seeking counseling.If Kurt Vonnegut had a redheaded stepchild, that illegitimate heir to the black comedic, satirical throne may be George Saunders Civilwarland in Bad Decline, his 1996 collection of short stories and one novella is Vonnegutesque in the sense that Saunders pokes relentless fun at our society and culture, accepts Louis CK like the abashed groans, and then plunges ahead withof his acerbic, vitriolic and wickedly funny as hell slam dunk on our society But that really doesn t fit either, a slam dunk is too pedestrian and neutral of a reference Saunders takes our capitalistic, Judeo Christian, western civilization morals and ethics and delivers an MMA beat down that would make Quinton Rampage Jackson wince.Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs and Harry Crews in a literary tag team no holds barred grudge match.His characters wheeze and moan with pathetic life and piss themselves There is casual, negligent murder followed by halfhearted suburban, banal regret Saunders describes flagrant, unapologetic infidelity both literally and metaphorically His is not just the gutter, but a glittery and neon bright cesspool meandering into a dog bowl.Saunders demonstrates his skill with the unreliable narrator the same way Picasso did with the color blue If he were a harmful drug he would not be heroin but rather a ball peen hammer and a shot of El Torro tequila Use with moderation.Take the eponymous story for example, Civilwarland in Bad Decline An absurd parody of a theme park suffering financial setbacks amidst roving teenage vandals There are ghosts of Civil War era people haunting the grounds of the fake interactive museum Then there is a mentally disturbed war veteran in the fake theme park haunted by formerly real live civil war veterans.Several short stories and a novella and the theme and tone of the collection coalesces into the novella Bounty , a caustic satire of Americana gone all wrong.And so it goes


  2. says:

    What a degraded cosmos. We live in a world where cruelty towards others is becomingandaccepted how easy we rationalize our self righteous anger against someone who cut us off, brought us an undercooked meal, said something stupid, etc., and even seen as funny Saunders, like the ghost of Christmas future, would like to show us where that is leading us Civilwarland In Bad Decline, his first collection of stories, paints a grim portrait of a near future filled with everything from What a degraded cosmos. We live in a world where cruelty towards others is becomingandaccepted how easy we rationalize our self righteous anger against someone who cut us off, brought us an undercooked meal, said something stupid, etc., and even seen as funny Saunders, like the ghost of Christmas future, would like to show us where that is leading us Civilwarland In Bad Decline, his first collection of stories, paints a grim portrait of a near future filled with everything from economic collapse, murderous CEO s, moral degradation on a mass scale, and a world dominated or enslaved by the rich, callous and self absorbed His satire, which manages to extract a comedic flair from all the foreboding gloom, cuts to the core of our morality Saunders presents us with the inner thoughts of the poor and the meek, the dregs of a future society not that unlike our own as he cautions us against our mistreatment of others and the self important beliefs that drive us to sidestep our morality.George Saunders thinks we are all assholes, and he is probably right While we feel safety in our knowledge that each story is removed from our own reality, the creeping dread at seeing our own world, our actions or those of people we know, elevated to such apocalyptic proportions is frightening In nearly every story, the economy has driven us to a state where the wealthy dominate and all others are mere chattel, disposable employees who suffer horrific treatment just to scrape by We see people pushed through degrading drudgery just to survive, dehumanized, enslaved and laughed at, and we see those who have risen above it only looking down with mirthful scorn Each person is just a pawn in everyone else s game It is this self centered view that led the world to such a predicamentDad said she should try to understand that other people, even ignorant people, even poor people, loved their children every bit as much as she loved hers Tell me something I don t know, she said The point is, I don t love their kids as much as I love mineImmanuel Kant s first Categorical Imperative states thatAct only on the maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law. Through his stories, Saunders argues that if we all look out only for ourselves, if we all ignore the needs of others, then we are doomed to this degradation of moral, ethical, and economic standards The 400lb CEO is a ripe example of our cruelty towards others, as the reader witnesses the inner turmoil of a good man, albeit an obese man, as he clings to his morality while beleaguered by insults and jokes at his weight his coworkers openly mock him to his face with no thought to how it might affect him This instills a tragic belief that perfectly captures the essence of Saunders messageI have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak, his dumb, his fat, his lazy I believe he takespleasure in his perfect creatures, and cheers them on like a brainless dad as they run roughshod over the rest of us He gives us a desire to be liked, and personal attributes that make us utterly unlikable Having placed his flawed and needy children in a world of exacting specifications, he deducts the difference between what we have and what we need from our hearts and our self esteem and our mental health. There is no end to the rationalizations made to gloss over the difficult truths of moral depravity Much like the darkly comedic works of Flannery O Connor, Saunders depicts obdurate, morally corrupt characters who cling to their religion What terrible atrocities we can commit with God on our side Money is another scapegoat, as in the title story where even murder seems less repugnant than bankruptcy and lowly employees are pressured into terrible situations in order to feed their families There is no arguing against those in power, and exposing their depravity, or fighting against it, can only lead one to being squashed by the corporate gears, as in Downtrodden Mary Some people truly are above the laws It is the wicked that rule the world, and the good that are haunted by the ghosts of the slaughter Those with a good moral compass always get crushed in his worlds, and often they are ridiculed or hated because of their honest and good beliefs The ability to feel, to empathize, to pity, open one up to the cold, hateful aim of those whose hearts are so calloused and buried in filth and self righteousness that they can t care for anyone aside from themselves.Saunders wants us to treat each other with respect, to keep an open mind and open heart In his violent visions, we see the results of our acceptance of picking on the nerds, the physically less fortunate, the weak and the dumb In the wonderful, and wonderfully terrifying novella Bounty, those with any deformity, the Flawed, are enslaved and dehumanized While Saunders uses the parallels of pre Civil War American slavery to flesh out the novella, as well as using racism to fuel the plot of the Ralph Ellison esk Isabelle, the effect isthan just putting a new spin on a traditional literary examination Saunders re examines the past to portend the future, and extends the horrors encompass us all instead of stopping at boundaries of race, creed or gender The world damns the Flawed, yet, as pointed out by an elderly Flawed there s not a person on this earth who s not Flawed in one way or another. While we may excel in one area, we all have our deficiencies, even if they are not visible.In each story, the world is headed in a terrible direction that is, for the most part, seen as irreversible Saunders is looking to us, those in the present, to course correct in order to avoid such a grim future His futures, however, aren t that dissimilar from our present In nearly every story which is a bit of a point of contention for me , the narrator works in a theme park like resort where wealthy patrons can experience a simulated pure, natural world, often one of times past While this is fitting with a world where everything is collapsing, polluted and destroyed, it isn t much different from our present as we escape the world around us for virtual worlds We live through our online selves, we escape our world to other worlds, such as seeking solace in times past, through video games and movies These terrible bosses and evil corporate empires are all around us, and the mistreatment and fear mongering that keeps workers in line happens each and every day Having just escaped a factory where it is clear that employees are not people a place where nobody is concerned that the employees move about in thick clouds of aluminum dust, or use cancerous chemicals without masks or ventilation, a place where employees work 60 80hr weeks and have no say in anything, no rights, hope of raises, are dismissed at a whim, ridiculed, a place that is perfectly legal and accepted by society, yet maddening and deadly to work in, this is the sort of place that Saunders satirizes without having to jump too far I apologize for this aside, I don t intend it as any woe is me , but to share the eye opening experience I had of how places like in The Jungle still exist today As in Cormac McCarthy, Saunders shows how just because you can do something, doesn t make it right Just because you have the power over another life, you should not kill it, smite it, ridicule it, enslave it or abuse it in any way Laws or social acceptance may be in your favor, but it still isn t right and makes you a monster We must be good to one another in order for the world to flourish.This collection is a joy to read It is witty, downright hilarious at times while uncomfortable at others, and presents a really positive message despite dragging the reader through a world of muck to get there I really hope Saunders continues writing for a long time to come and goes down as one of the great literary satirists The writing is crisp and carries a strong forward momentum and Saunders comes equipped with enough techniques, such as his slight changes in dialogue presentation and his character s lexicon to disguise that each character, all of them told in first person, have a very similar cadence and voice While it has a few rough patches, the collection still manages to soar with its comedy and dark visions.4.5 5 Seeing someone do something that s not patently selfish and fucked up is like a breath of fresh air, good clean fresh air, not that any one of us would know good clean fresh air is a vial of it swooped down and bit us on the assSlavery is not the only idea dredged up Saunders use of economical collapse sets each story in a world where it isn t all that surprising that people would bond together against what they fear In High School we all had to examine how ordinary people could commit terrible atrocities, such as the Nazis and the holocaust, etc I apologize for the Reductio ad Hitlerum here, but it is necessary , allowing economic pressure and mob mentality to rationalize and assuage any moral qualms against even the most despicable of actions In Bounty, it is a similar circumstance that allows people to view the Flawed as less than human and to not bat an eye at the Flawed s horrific mistreatment


  3. says:

    Man, this little guyI can t fault it a single sentence Every story in this tiny collection made me want to high five the author with one hand and cradle my hanging head in the other Maybe I was a bit hard on his later Pastoralia because I needed to warm up to Saunders, maybe my head was just in the right space this time around, or perhaps this really is the superior group of stories Whatever magical trippydippy cosmos aligning parade of f ck yeah was going on, I dug the expletive deleted Man, this little guyI can t fault it a single sentence Every story in this tiny collection made me want to high five the author with one hand and cradle my hanging head in the other Maybe I was a bit hard on his later Pastoralia because I needed to warm up to Saunders, maybe my head was just in the right space this time around, or perhaps this really is the superior group of stories Whatever magical trippydippy cosmos aligning parade of f ck yeah was going on, I dug the expletive deleted outta this thing To start the New Year off in tune with my hangover bluuuuues, I couldn t have asked for aappropriate tone than Saunders bomb crater soul with somehow but barely still beating heart, nihilistic we re all screwed so let s laughness Then again, I m in one of those moods where I would kinda fancy taking a slingshot and a pocket full of acorns into a public square and firing at random You may think he needs to lighten up I have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak, his dumb, his fat, his lazy I believe he takespleasure in his perfect creatures, and cheers them on like a brainless dad as they run roughshod over the rest of us He gives us a desire to be liked, and personal attributes that make us utterly unlikable Having placed his flawed and needy children in a world of exacting specifications, he deducts the difference between what we have and what we need from our hearts and our self esteem and our mental health. Oh HEYALL yeah I wanna marry those words and knock em up with, like, sixteen babies Then in typical Saunders hates Capitalism fashion, there s this next quote concerning a Civil War reenactor who is out of nowhere and to his dismay tasked with the duty of firing live rounds at the pesky youth gangs that have been intruding on and defacing the park where he worksI m an actor, Quinn says Quinn s got kids, I say He knows the value of a buck This is acting of the highest stripe, Mr A says Act like a mercenary Buddy, you just said a mouthful


  4. says:

    Using lavish grotesque and generously mocking political correctness and hypocrisy George Saunders thrashes everyday life to pitiful trash, reducing the States to the ridiculous dystopia of dark ages.That night I sleep a troubled sleep beside a fetid stream I dream of Limbo, a tiny room full of dull people eternally discussing their dental work while sipping lukewarm tea I wake at first light and hike through miles of failing forest and around noon arrive in a village of paranoiacs standing wit Using lavish grotesque and generously mocking political correctness and hypocrisy George Saunders thrashes everyday life to pitiful trash, reducing the States to the ridiculous dystopia of dark ages.That night I sleep a troubled sleep beside a fetid stream I dream of Limbo, a tiny room full of dull people eternally discussing their dental work while sipping lukewarm tea I wake at first light and hike through miles of failing forest and around noon arrive in a village of paranoiacs standing with rifles in the doorways of flapper era homes It s a nice town No signs of plunder or panic The McDonald s has been occupied by the radical Church of Appropriate Humility Everyone calls them Guilters The ultimate Guilter ritual is when one of them goes into a frenzy and thrusts his or her hand into a deep fryer A mangled hand is a badge of honor All the elders have two, and need to be helped on and off with their coats.Economics, politics, ecology, morals and culture degraded dramatically but at the same time vulgarity progressed incongruously.The day it happened, an attractive all girl glee club was lying around on the concrete in Kawabunga Kove in Day Glo suits, looking for all the world like a bunch of blooms The president and sergeant at arms were standing with brown ankles in the shallow, favorably comparing my Attraction to real surf To increase my appeal I had the sea chanteys blaring I was operating at the prescribed wave frequency setting but in my lust for the glee club had the magnitude pegged.Bread and circuses entertainment is the basis of civilization Whatever happens, show must go on and the citizens must be entertained


  5. says:

    Welcome to the OccupationThe whole way through George Saunders first collection of short stories, there are suggestions that the world is not as it should be.Imagine a world like this, totally unlike our own The characters and narrators are or are surrounded by kooks and wackos People have names like Shirleen and Melvin Where there were once cornfields and flood plains, there are now parking stations and theme parks Gangs invade civil war re enactments All dreams are defiled All entertai Welcome to the OccupationThe whole way through George Saunders first collection of short stories, there are suggestions that the world is not as it should be.Imagine a world like this, totally unlike our own The characters and narrators are or are surrounded by kooks and wackos People have names like Shirleen and Melvin Where there were once cornfields and flood plains, there are now parking stations and theme parks Gangs invade civil war re enactments All dreams are defiled All entertainment is simulated Muzak reigns All other music is lip synched All consumer items are fake or synthetic All advertising is misleading All flavouring is artificial Outside homes are suspended signs saying,Homogeneity, Sweet HomogeneityA Randian Bountytown welcomes you with the greeting,Where merit is king and so are youSuccess in the community means you ve been inducted into RotaryGod is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak, his dumb, his fat, his lazyDesigner verisimilitude is de rigueur Memories are shmemories Errant fathers are passive flakes, milquetoasts and yes men who leave their families behind and marry floozies Even Dear John letters are forged People are either Normal or Flawed, special or mutant, possessed or dispossessed There is no longer any innocence, only guilt Sincerity is a thing of the past Authenticity has disappeared into thin air and survives only as a ghost or a rumour My Torn and Black Heart RebelsSaunders narrators believe they have to do something about it the world needs to be rectifiedHaving lost what was to be lost, my torn and black heart rebelsenough already, enough, this is as low as I go Understandably, they have to start at the bottomLearn to enjoy what little you have Revel in the fact that your dignity hasn t yet been stripped away For all the satirical intent and comic effect, these stories of rebellion have a heart of gold They live and breathe pure empathyEveryone you ve ever loved you ve treated like gold The door of happiness swings open for the selflessI look after her and she squeals with delight when I come home, and the sum total of sadness in the world is less than it would have been This is the real thing.George Saunders and Mark TwainSOUNDTRACK view spoiler The Chills The Male Monster from the Id Welcome to the Occupation Sugar cane and coffee cupCopper, steel and cattleAn annotated historyThe forest for the fireWhere we open up the floodgatesFreedom reigns supremeFire on the hemisphere below Genevi ve Toupin Heart of Gold Neil Young Morris The Real Thing Chills Part Past Part Fiction Brother Million Dollar Bill Brother Million Dollar Bill KXT 91.7 and ArtSeek Present On the Road Star Fade Into You Live on Late Night with Conan O Brien Day I ll Keep It with Mine Bob Dylan Hoffs and Matthew Sweet A Different Drum Taste the Ceiling Live at Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago on July 17, 2015 hide spoiler


  6. says:

    I already knew liked the title track so I skipped to the big novella Bounty and thought hello hello this is like a Motown follow up where say Reach Out I ll be There was followed up by Standing in the Shadows of Love which is like the same song tweaked a bit but still great or I Can t Help Myself followed up by It s the Same Old Song which really is, how daringly blatant they were I thought this was a short story collection but it slike a rock opera, where the stories inhabi I already knew liked the title track so I skipped to the big novella Bounty and thought hello hello this is like a Motown follow up where say Reach Out I ll be There was followed up by Standing in the Shadows of Love which is like the same song tweaked a bit but still great or I Can t Help Myself followed up by It s the Same Old Song which really is, how daringly blatant they were I thought this was a short story collection but it slike a rock opera, where the stories inhabit the same world you know like Tommy so I shoulda read the blurb Set in a dystopian near future in which America has become littlethan a theme park in terminal disrepairWell, sugar pie honey George, it s the same old joke Alright, because George is quite brilliant, it s a firework display of many similar jokes. But anyways, not a patch on Tenth of December, George s latest collection, which got the P Bryant Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, presented in a short but tasteful ceremony in Pirates Park, Waldeck Road, Sherwood in May 2013 Mr Saunders sent a hologram of himself to accept the award and it was just so moving I had to retire behind a large child to throw up.Best story worth getting this 2nd hand for The 400 Pound CEO


  7. says:

    Me at 18 I read Vonnegut I read Tom Robbins I read Mark Leyner I read Douglas Adams I had just left the nest in a small Oklahoma town I knew hardship I knew the void of culture that threatens to suck you in like a black hole I knew the vapid anguish that takes center stage in Saunders stories Humor was therapy then, the absurd a close friend We scoffed at the religious majority and their follies, poked fun at the consumerist drone of daily existence Then came anger and resentment Bu Me at 18 I read Vonnegut I read Tom Robbins I read Mark Leyner I read Douglas Adams I had just left the nest in a small Oklahoma town I knew hardship I knew the void of culture that threatens to suck you in like a black hole I knew the vapid anguish that takes center stage in Saunders stories Humor was therapy then, the absurd a close friend We scoffed at the religious majority and their follies, poked fun at the consumerist drone of daily existence Then came anger and resentment But now, now a quiet concern and disappointment that the world is truly this disturbing, that it wasn t just a cruel joke, and that lessons are painfully slow to be learned by our obstinate population.And then there is George Saunders, always good for a laugh And such high ratings Such acclaim and I see his consistent voice of contempt and clever constructions of a world not unlike ours but just a bitfocused on the details of its unpleasant and ludicrous sides George Saunders the new voice of satire, a genre that has always served a function since the classical Greeks, and later Swift The only problem, for me, is that I suppose I don t like satire any, not in large doses, anyway I can only stomach so much irony, only handle so many exaggerations into hilarity, that the hilarity becomes irritating after a while Am I too serious Probably Do I want a didactic serious approach to critiquing our society Well, no I don t always need to be told through fiction that the world is horrible I know that I want human stories, human realism I suppose the problem isn t Saunders writing, it s that I ve outgrown farce Vonnegut s absurd world just doesn t do it for me any ADDENDUM I LIKE SATIRE AND SAUNDERS MORE NOW NOVEMBER, 2015


  8. says:

    Poor George Saunders must have had a real real bad theme park experience in his youth This collection of stories makes the dystopia of Zombieland seem sedate I love Saunders take on American consumption and the way he is able to shove values and virtues of 20th century America into a funky future that makes all our virtues absurd and makes this anti utopia seem closer than you might have previously imagined.


  9. says:

    The past couple of months, two activities have dominated my leisure time reading and watching NBA hoops After reading CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, I was reminded of a hoops argument that I think should carry over to modern literature as well The argument has to deal with the unceasing quest for the so called next Michael Jordan Michael Jordan was the transcendent athlete, if not public figure, of my childhood There are a generation of kids who still drink Gatorade, buy Nikes, and wear Hanes The past couple of months, two activities have dominated my leisure time reading and watching NBA hoops After reading CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, I was reminded of a hoops argument that I think should carry over to modern literature as well The argument has to deal with the unceasing quest for the so called next Michael Jordan Michael Jordan was the transcendent athlete, if not public figure, of my childhood There are a generation of kids who still drink Gatorade, buy Nikes, and wear Hanes solely because at some point in their childhood they wanted to be like Mike Whenever I play a pickup game, or even just shoot around I find my tongue subconsciously hanging out of my mouth when I drive to the basket What separates Jordan from similar figures is he actually justified this adulation Watching Jordan was watching a real life folk hero I remember my Dad, who isn t an NBA fan, during the MLB strike of 1994 ranting about how all professional athletes are overpaid, then pausing and adding with the exception of Michael Jordan This is a guy who averaged a couple grand a minute during the late 90s The Flu Game, The Shrug Game, The Blindfolded Dunk, The final shot of the 1998 Finals No other athlete since Babe Ruth has been able to summon similar myth making moments Yet as soon as he retired for the second time the media and basketball fans have become obsessed with finding the Next Jordan Around a dozen guys have been nominated as candidates, and while these guys are all extremely talented, it s doing them a disservice to compare them to Jordan Jordan is Gretzky, Young Sandy Koufax, Mohammed Ali before the draft, and The Beatles combined, a truly once in a lifetime talent I ve started to notice a similar thing going on in literature concerning David Foster Wallace More andit seems the DFW comparisons are used talking about contemporary authors For Christmas, I received two books explicitly name checked Wallace on the back cover This really doesn t bother me, and I don t think it causes the reader or the publishing industry any harm When I think about it, there s nothing like a good DFW comparison to get me interested in a newly published book But at the same time, I worry a little bit about it The problem with the next Jordan controversy is that while Vince Carter has oraptly once had the capacity for in air improvisation that Jordan had, Dwyane Wade has the ability to put a team on his shoulders and almost single handedly win playoff series, and Kobe has the clutch instincts and competitive intensity Jordan had, none of these guys are on MJ s level While these guys, and others I haven t mentioned are very good to extraordinarily good at individual faucets of the game of basketball, Jordan was the best at everything you can ask a shooting guard to be good at.I wouldn t go so far as to completely equate the respective greatness of MJ and DFW, but there is an analogy here Because, let s face it, anybody who reads an author expecting a David Foster Wallace doppelg nger is probably going to be disappointed as those who expected Harold Miner to be the next Michael Jordan.Now that that s said, while this argument came to me while I was reading CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, I m not sure this review is the best place to expound upon it For starters, George Saunders writing style and story telling are both fundamentally different from DFW s If you were to make a Venn Diagram of George Saunders and DFW, the overlapping segments of the circles would be a mere sliver, at least based on this book In fact, I wouldn t be shocked if Saunders never read any Wallace before he wrote any of these stories There are certain traits that Saunders and Wallace share Both are able to write about a world that is fundamentally different from ours in very profound ways, but, at the same, make the reader feel some sense of almost eerie familiarity Be it descriptions of wheelchair bound Quebecois assassins who were disabled in a bizarre rail jumping ritual, or an account of an employee at a Civil War Era theme park seeking advice from the ghosts of an actual Civil War era family, both writers have an uncanny ability to treat the other worldly in a causal manner They both have incredible imaginations, but are able to resist what must be an overwhelming urge to let the otherness of their narratives overly dominate the storytelling I feel like I m doing people a disservice when I tell them what the plot of Infinite Jest is about While the world Wallace constructs is unbelievably intriguing, that s not what the book is about If you go into the book expecting to learn about The Entertainment and find out what s wrong with Hal, you re going to be somewhat disappointed I feel similarly about the stories here While the settings might suggest genre fiction, Saunders writing reminded meof Raymond Carver than Philip K Dick or DFW My one quibble may be is that while Saunders is definitely a unique storyteller, and I enjoyed all of the stories, there is nothing that really resonated with me or kept me up thinking at night Beyond the polish of the background, I m not sure exactly how much is new there I haven t come close to reading the complete DFW bibliography or Saunders , but it still pisses me off to no end that one day that wells going to run prematurely dry Because, just as there was nothing like watching Jordan in his prime, there is nothing out there quite like reading David Foster Wallace What makes experiencing greatness so extraordinary is the uniqueness inherent in it s nature Like I said, I m not sure how far anybody has ever gone with the Wallace comparisons to Saunders, so I m not sure if any of this applies And there s nothing wrong with comparing recent experiences with fondly recalled past experiences But I worry that holding something to the level of past greatness, be it MJ, DFW, The Beatles, Brando, Scorsese, etc., does a diservices to both the new experience by holding it up to a standard that is impossible to reach without some glimmer of nostalgia, and the old experience by causing us to forget how unique the first was


  10. says:

    So this is where it all began for George Saunders In the wonderful preface which can be read in full here , he reveals that he wrote these stories over the course of seven years while working a monotonous office job Once he had compiled the tedious technical reports at his desk, he spent every spare minute working on this collection, hiding it from his boss Sidenote This sounds very familiar to me I work in a similarly unstimulating role and tend to spend much of it daydreaming about book So this is where it all began for George Saunders In the wonderful preface which can be read in full here , he reveals that he wrote these stories over the course of seven years while working a monotonous office job Once he had compiled the tedious technical reports at his desk, he spent every spare minute working on this collection, hiding it from his boss Sidenote This sounds very familiar to me I work in a similarly unstimulating role and tend to spend much of it daydreaming about books But hey it pays the bills With a young family relying on him at home, it can t have been easy to juggle everything, but his persistence eventually paid off and he became the much acclaimed author he is today.Though Saunders looks back on this period fondly, the stories are quite dark Unhappy ghosts and monstrous theme parks, his favourite subjects, feature prominently Bounty, the novella which ends the collection, is a nightmarish vision of future America, where the Flawed people with genetic abnormalities are forced to work in historical recreations to entertain the wealthy Normals In The 400 Pound CEO, the protagonist is an obese man, bullied by his office colleagues, whose company rids homes of racoon infestations and claims to release them into the wild when in fact they burn the animals and dump them in a pit Isabelle is the one uplifting tale in the book In an angry town fuelled by racial hatred, the lonely narrator takes pity on a severely disabled neighbour and gives her a place to stayNow we re pals Family It s not perfect Sometimes it s damn hard But I look after her and she squeals with delight when I come home, and the sum total of sadness in the world is less than it would have been If I have one small criticism it s that the stories are all quite similar in tone and theme But you can see Saunders honing his craft, and these tales are imbued with the sharp satirical humour and skewed take on modern culture that he is now famous for His ability to highlight the absurdities of world we live in allows us to realise how ridiculous much of it really is, and encourages us to consider what really matters most He is a true genius, and we are lucky to have him


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CivilWarLand in Bad DeclineIn Six Stories And The Novella, Bounty, Saunders Introduces Readers To People Struggling To Survive In An Increasingly Haywire World


About the Author: George Saunders

George Saunders was born December 2, 1958 and raised on the south side of Chicago In 1981 he received a B.S in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado He worked at Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, NY as a technical writer and geophysical engineer from 1989 to 1996 He has also worked in Sumatra on an oil exploration geophysics crew, as a doorman in Beverly Hills, a roofer in Chicago, a convenience store clerk, a guitarist in a Texas country and western band, and a knuckle puller in a West Texas slaughterhouse After reading in People magazine about the Master s program at Syracuse University, he applied Mr Saunders received an MA with an emphasis in creative writing in 1988 His thesis advisor was Doug Unger.He has been an Assistant Professor, Syracuse University Creative Writing Program since 1997 He has also been a Visiting Writer at Vermont Studio Center, University of Georgia MayMester Program, University of Denver, University of Texas at Austin, St Petersburg Literary Seminar St Petersburg, Russia, Summer 2000 , Brown University, Dickinson College, Hobart William Smith Colleges He conducted a Guest Workshop at the Eastman School of Music, Fall 1995, and was an Adjunct Professor at Saint John Fisher College, Rochester, New York, 1990 1995 and Adjunct Professor at Siena College, Loudonville, New York in Fall 1989.He is married and has two children His favorite charity is a project to educate Tibetan refugee children in Nepal Information on this can be found at